Sunday, 25 October 2020

A global triumph of disarmament diplomacy

Yesterday I received the best possible present for my 64th birthday: the most important breakthrough in disarmament diplomcy in my lifetime, much more important than the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, because this Nuclear Weapons Ban Treay will have real diplomatic teeth. That is why the five nuclear weaposn states ( the "P5") have made extraordinary 'common cause' to oppose it - possibly the only issue on which the US, Russia,China,France and UK are totally agreed- ie they must be allowed to keep their nuclear WMDs in perpetuity..... Below issome of the early reportage of this fantastic agreement. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Nuclear weapons Treaty to ban nuclear weapons made official with 50th UN signatory Production, use and stockpiling of nuclear weapons illegal from January 2021 though nuclear-armed states have not signed up Staff and agencies Sun 25 Oct 2020 05.52 GMT Last modified on Sun 25 Oct 2020 10.09 GMT 628 An international treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by a 50th country, the UN has said, allowing the historic though essentially symbolic text to enter into force after 90 days. While nuclear powers have not signed up to the treaty, activists who have pushed for its enactment hold out hope that it will prove to be more than symbolic and have a gradual deterrent effect. Honduras became the 50th country to ratify. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, called it “the culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”, according to a statement from his spokesman. Now that nuclear weapons are illegal, the Pacific demands truth on decades of testing Read more “It represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” NGOs also welcomed the news, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), a coalition that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in bringing the treaty to fruition. “Honduras just ratified the Treaty as the 50th state, triggering entry into force and making history,” Ican announced. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement: “Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future.” The 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, marked in August, saw a wave of countries ratify the treaty. They included Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta and Tuvalu. Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Vatican are among the countries that had already ratified it. The treaty would come into force on 22 January 2021, the UN said. Declared nuclear-armed states including the US, Britain, France, China and Russia have not signed the treaty. The US has written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The letter, obtained by the Associated Press, said the five original nuclear powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty. However campaigners hope the treaty will have the same impact as previous international treaties on landmines and cluster munitions, bringing a stigma to their stockpiling and use, and thereby a change in behaviour even in countries that did not sign up. Ican said in a statement that it expects “companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon-producing companies”. The coalition’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, called it “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”. “Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned.” Saying his country had played a “decisive role” alongside others, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter it was “an important step toward our goal of a world without nuclear arms”. Nuclear-armed states argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent and say they remain committed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Separately, Russia and the US have been seeking to break an impasse in long-running talks aimed at extending a nuclear arms deal between them. The two sides have struggled to find common ground over the fate of the New START treaty, which limits both sides to 1,550 deployed warheads but is due to expire next February. While the US wants to rework the deal to include China and cover new kinds of weapons, Russia is willing to extend the agreement for five years without any new conditions – and each side has repeatedly shot down the other’s proposals. With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UN: Nuclear weapons ban treaty to enter into force The United Nations has confirmed that 50 countries have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons, triggering its entry into force in 90 days By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press ‎25‎ ‎October‎ ‎2020‎ ‎09‎:‎30 UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations announced Saturday that 50 countries have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers. As of Friday, the treaty had 49 signatories, and the United Nations said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the 50 states and saluted “the instrumental work" of civil society in facilitating negotiations and pushing for ratification, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. The U.N. chief said the treaty’s entry into force on Jan. 22 culminates a worldwide movement “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and “is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty,” he said, Guterres said the treaty “represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations,” Dujarric said. Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, said: “This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the U.N. which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone.” “The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,” she said. The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the U.N. Charter which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day. “The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “This treaty is the U.N. at its best — working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.” The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons -- and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries. Once it enters into force all countries that have ratified it will be bound by those requirements. The United States had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The U.S. letter, obtained by The Associated Press, said the five original nuclear powers -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France -- and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty. It says the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts. “The TPNW is and will remain divisive in the international community and risk further entrenching divisions in existing nonproliferation and disarmament fora that offer the only realistic prospect for consensus-based progress,” the letter said. “It would be unfortunate if the TPNW were allowed to derail our ability to work together to address pressing proliferation.” Fihn has stressed that “the nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy. Rebecca Johnson, a co-founder and first president of the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, said: “The ban treaty is as much about just making it much more possible for people all around the world to see nobody needs nuclear weapons, and they’re actually an impediment, an obstacle -- they’re in the way of dealing with the real security threats we have on the ground from COVID to climate.” She said in an AP interview that nuclear weapons can’t prevent or deal with conflicts like the most recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. “They’re just in the way, and they’re highly expensive, and the governments that have them are distracted from the real security issues by trying to constantly pay for these arms races that they’re still obsessed with.” Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent.” There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant, Rocca said. The power of many of those warheads is tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Secretary-General Guterres said in an Associated Press interview on Wednesday: “It is clear for me that we will only be entirely safe in relation to nuclear weapons the day where nuclear weapons no longer exist. We know that it’s not easy. We know that there are many obstacles.” He expressed hope that a number of important initiatives, including U.S.-Russia talks on renewing the New Start Treaty limiting deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and next year’s review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, “will all converge in the same direction, and the final objective must be to have a world with no nuclear weapons.” The treaty was approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on July 7, 2017 by a vote of 122 in favor, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favor was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies. Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, who has been an ardent campaigner for the treaty, said: “When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand.” “I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy,” she said in a statement. “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> UN Nuclear Treaty achieves 50th ratification for Entry into Force on 75th anniversary of UN's founding London, 25 October 2020: The United Nations has confirmed that the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been ratified by its 50th state party, Honduras, and will therefore enter into international legal force 90 days later, on 22 January 2021. "This Treaty bans nuclear weapons production, testing, possession and use, along with other activities that could enable and assist anyone to acquire or use these weapons of mass destruction ever again," said Dr Rebecca Johnson, a former Greenham peace activist and first president of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate). "This treaty is the culmination of 75 years of humanitarian activism, from the "Hibakusha" and indigenous survivors of nuclear weapons and testing, to the Aldermaston marchers and Greenham Common Peace Women who helped to ban nuclear testing and get cruise missiles banned and off the roads. Together we've persuaded UN governments to bring this ground-breaking nuclear disarmament treaty into international humanitarian law. Our task now is to bring all the nuclear armed and dependent countries into working with the non-nuclear majority to eliminate existing arsenals and universalise, implement and verify the Nuclear Ban Treaty." Ben Donaldson, from United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK), highlighted the symbolism of the TPNW reaching its 50th ratification on UN Day, 75 years on from the founding of the United Nations, and recognised that nuclear weapons were first used against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago in August 1945. Noting that this UN-negotiated multilateral treaty was recently described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as an important pillar to strengthen nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, Mr Donaldson said, “The ground is moving under the UK’s feet. We now have this significant new UN treaty which will sit alongside the other major global treaty on nuclear weapons, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and drive forward the international community’s shared vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Governments, international organisations and civil society are sending a clear message to nuclear-armed that they have lived in fear of fallout for far too long, and want real disarmament action now.” As well as banning the activities and practices that make nuclear acquisition, proliferation and use possible, the TPNW provides two legal pathways by which nations holding nuclear weapons, like the UK, can eliminate their arsenals. From 2021 onwards, TPNW states parties will now work on establishing the strong legal framework to build adaptable verification systems and oversee nuclear disarmament compliance and implementation. Speaking from UN House Scotland, ICAN Steering Group member, Janet Fenton said, “The Scottish Peace Covenant expressed our desire for a Scotland that can contribute to international peace and justice, rather than being a launch pad for waging war. Now that aspiration is within our grasp. The TPNW shows the will of the sane majority of the world, and will ensure that we have unambiguous protection under international law when we stand strong in demonstrating our desire for nuclear disarmament and peace." ++++++ For further information contact Dr Rebecca Johnson 077 333 60955 ( and Ben Donaldson For photos and further information on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Note also: AP article on recent US effort to derail the Treaty Last week, as the 50th ratification neared, the Associated Press UN correspondent in New York, Edith Lederer, broke the news that the Trump Administration is making last ditch attempts to persuade countries to renege on signing and ratifying the TPNW. Comment from Dr Johnson, "Mr Trump has shown many times that he does not personally or politically respect laws and treaties, but most people – including the vast majority here in the UK – recognise the value of treaties, laws and international cooperation for our security, rights and wellbeing." See also AP follow up piece on entry into force.

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